Ball-hawk­ing, All-Pro Ravens CB Humphrey ready for Chiefs

Cecil Whig - - OURCECIL - By DAVID GINS­BURG

AP Sports Writer

Whether it’s knock­ing down a pass, punch­ing the ball loose or go­ing the other way with an in­ter­cep­tion, Bal­ti­more Ravens All-Pro cor­ner­back Mar­lon Humphrey has a knack for mak­ing game-chang­ing plays.

It’s a trait that might prove to be piv­otal in Mon­day night’s matchup against the de­fend­ing Super Bowl cham­pion Kansas City Chiefs and stand­out quar ter­back Patrick Ma­homes.

Last Sun­day in Hous­ton, Humphrey whipped his right arm around wide re­ceiver Keke Coutee and stripped the ball. Bal­ti­more line­backer L.J. Fort picked up the fum­ble and streaked 22 yards for a sec­ond-quar­ter score to put the Ravens up 20-7 in a game they would win 33-16 for their 14th con­sec­u­tive reg­u­lar-sea­son vic­tor y.

It was a play that has be­come com­mon­place for Humphrey, who last year forced Pitts­burgh re­ceiver JuJu Smith-Schus­ter to fum­ble in over­time. Although left on his back while mak­ing the play, Humphrey got up and sprinted 10 yards to pick up the loose ball and set up the game-win­ning field goal.

That was one sam­pling of a sea­son in which Humphrey had 65 tack­les, three in­ter­cep­tions, three fum­ble re­cov­er­ies (scor­ing on two of them) and two forced fum­bles. It’s more of the same in 2020: The fourth-year star is the only AFC player thus far with an in­ter­cep­tion and forced fum­ble.

“It’s just Mar­lon do­ing Mar­lon things,” Ravens of­fen­sive tackle Ron­nie Stan­ley said Wed­nes­day. “I would say that’s just how I ex­pect him to play. He’s all over the field caus­ing havoc. He’s al­ways tr ying to knock the foot­ball out.”

With Humphrey lead­ing the way, the Ravens (2-0) have forced a turnovers in 15 straight games and lead the NFL dur­ing this young sea­son with five take­aways. In ad­di­tion, Bal­ti­more

scored six de­fen­sive touch­downs last year (two by Humphrey) and started the 2020 ledger with Fort’s game-chang­ing TD.

“Two of our goals are, not only get turnovers but score with them as well,” Humphrey said.

Af­ter a break­through sea­son in which Humphrey made All-Pro, earned his first Pro Bowl berth and helped the Ravens to a 14-2 record, Humphrey lamented af­ter a play­off loss to Ten­nessee that his year fell short of ex­pec­ta­tions.

“I was on the field dur­ing the Super Bowl just walk­ing around, watch­ing the other teams warm up,” Humphrey said. “The en­ergy I felt down there in Mi­ami, it re­ally just trig­gered my whole off­sea­son into just think­ing, ‘Man, the only thing I re­ally want is a Super Bowl.’”

So he worked hard dur­ing the off­sea­son, climb­ing a rock pile in Alabama with his broth­ers and run­ning with his sis­ter, who’s on the track team at LSU.

Dur­ing train­ing camp, coach John Har­baugh said, “Mar­lon is all over the field. He’s phys­i­cal. He’s run­ning to the ball. Eyes are where they’re sup­posed to be in cov­er­age. I would say he’s tak­ing it up another notch, which is re­ally im­pres­sive, be­cause some guys aren’t ma­ture enough to handle the at­ten­tion.”

Humphrey at­tributes a por­tion of his suc­cess to fel­low cor­ner­back Mar­cus Peters, who was also se­lected to the Pro Bowl last sea­son. Ob­tained last Oc­to­ber in a trade with the Rams, Peters scored twice on in­ter­cep­tion re­turns for Bal­ti­more and has seven touch­downs over his five-year ca­reer.

“When it comes to get­ting the ball, I’ve got the best guy at that in Mar­cus Peters,” Humphrey said. “Any­time I need a tip or a hint, I can go to him. He’s al­ways there telling me some­thing.”

Humphrey has proven to be quite a stu­dent, and he’s surely go­ing to have to be at the top of his game when the Ravens take on Ma­homes and the Chiefs (2-0).

“He’s got all th­ese tools and has all this tal­ent around him,” Humphrey said of Ma­homes, the 2018 NFL MVP and reign­ing Super Bowl MVP. “As good as he is in the pocket, he’s just as good if not bet­ter out­side the pocket. Pre­par­ing for him is re­ally tough. He’s never out of the game.”

ERIC CHRIS­TIAN SMITH

Bal­ti­more Ravens cor­ner­back Mar­lon Humphrey (44) caused Hous­ton Tex­ans wide re­ceiver Keke Coutee (16) to fum­ble dur­ing the first half of an NFL foot­ball game Sun­day, Sept. 20, 2020, in Hous­ton. Bal­ti­more re­cov­ered and scored a touch­down on the play. (AP Photo/Eric Chris­tian Smith)

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